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Regional Public Housing

Promoting viable public housing across metropolitan Chicago

Regional Housing Initiative

The issue

The housing crisis and recession have led many more households to seek apartments and single-family homes for rent in the suburbs. Renting not only avoids the need for a substantial down payment but also provides a good option for households in transition, such as elderly people who want to move out of their homes but stay in the communities where they raised their families, and people starting families or new jobs. 

To date, RHI partners have awarded operating subsidies to more than 360 apartments in 23 successful developments.

Image: Emerson Square, Evanston, Ill. Courtesy Brinshore Development, LLC.

Yet the availability of affordable rental homes in areas with good job opportunities, transportation options and quality schools is falling far short of demand in metropolitan Chicago. Adjusting to this “new normal,” suburban communities are seeking smart strategies for attracting quality developers and property managers that ensure rental homes—whether new or rehabilitated—are an asset to the community and meet the needs of working families. 

The solution

The Regional Housing Initiative (RHI) is a one-of-a-kind partnership between eight regional housing authorities in northeastern Illinois, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), and MPC. Participating housing authorities pool a portion of their available rental assistance to provide long-term support for the rehabilitation or construction of multifamily, affordable rental homes in great communities across the region.  

RHI helps to create affordable rental housing where shortages are particularly severe—typically in areas with good jobs, transportation options, and quality public education—and that meet the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus’ Housing Endorsement Criteria. The initiative actively seeks out and subsidizes developments located in low-poverty, high-opportunity communities or in communities undergoing reinvestment and redevelopment that would benefit from increased housing stability.

The benefits

  • Low-income families gain access to housing in attractive communities, while paying reasonable rents set at 30 percent of their incomes. 
  • The owner of the development receives a steady source of rental income throughout the 15-year operating subsidy. 
  • Developers using RHI are more competitive for IHDA’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit funding. 
  • Homes that receive funding support regional and local housing goals.

How to apply

The Regional Housing Initiative has a competitive, rolling application process; property owners and developers may submit applications for this round of RHI funding at any time. Here's how to apply:

  1. Download and review the application:
  2. Make an appointment to meet individually with Metropolitan Planning Council staff. Developers interested in RHI support for the Summer/Fall 2014 round of Illinois Housing Development Authority's Low Income Housing Tax Credits must call Angie Leyva at 312-863-6017 by June 23, 2014 to schedule a conversation about RHI's parallel application procedures.
  3. Submit the application for review by the RHI Selection Panel. Applications for existing buildings may be submitted on a rolling basis.
  4. If approved by the panel and the local housing authority, the owner will enter into a contract with the housing authority that outlines the financial and procedural obligations of both parties.


BRicK Partners, LLC
Chicago Housing Authority
DuPage Housing Authority
Housing Authority of Cook County
Illinois Housing Development Authority
Joliet Housing Authority
Lake County Housing Authority
McHenry County Housing Authority
Oak Park Housing Authority 
Waukegan Housing Authority

For more information

Breann Gala
Project Manager
312 863 6029

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
P 312 922 5616 F 312 922 5619
Helping create competitive, equitable, and sustainable communities

For 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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